Comic Book Elections

Support Your Candidates, Support Your Comic Shop!
Come October first, your local comic shop might give you an election that's a little more fun than the standard political circus. Personally, I'll be voting to put The Villains, a category that can include anybody from The Joker to Norman Osborn, in office. You might vote for comic book heroes, perhaps even Captain America, to steer the country for the next four years. You might even want to vote for a third option, which will contain people like The Punisher, who aren't exactly heroes or villains, but have interesting platforms nonetheless.

It's an event called the Comic Book Election, to be held on October 1. The Election is the brainchild of Matt Sardo, owner of Chicago's
“Comic Vault”, a relatively new establishment that has already proven it has a lot to offer a city with no shortage of comic stores.

From now until October 25, Sardo's website (at ) will be running mock articles in which the site's writers will adopt fictitious personae as political commentators. They'll comment on the current events in comic books as though they were the current events which real pundits on, say, Fox News or CNN, will be quibbling over until election day.

Sure, people have been using fictional characters to mock the elections for years (we've all seen the “Republicans For Voldemort”), but Sardo's effort stands out because it actively mocks the process of the election, with all of its pomp and circumstance, rather then just the candidates or their platforms.

“We've run articles accusing Spider-Man of flip-flopping on his marriage, and talking about how this could hurt his chances” laughed Sardo, referring to Marvel's recent badly-received retcon of the character's long-time relationship with Mary-Jane, as well as the charge frequently leveled against John Kerry by the press. Another article loudly proclaims 'Tony Stark is an Imperialist Punk!'

Sardo will also be courting comic stores around the nation, trying to get them to sign up to promote the event within their stores. So far, eight have signed up across the state of Illinois, and Sardo will be making appearances at conventions across the country to gather support for the event. On October 25, Sardo hopes that comic book buyers will come to participating stores and cast their vote for one of the three choices, with the winner to be announced after all the votes have been tabulated.

Like any good campaign, you can also support your party with a T-shirt, with one dollar from each order going to the Walter Payton Cancer Fund.

“It's something I came up with a year ago. The neighborhood was having an election for Alderman [a local office in Chicago] and the one we have has been in power forever,” Sardo said.

“The design of his signs were instantly recognizable. I copied it, but put in Lex Luthor's name, and hung it up. Politics gets kind of annoying these days, this was my little protest.”

With this year's election looking to be more vicious then ever, Sardo's “little protest” has caught on, and the idea has grown.

“Originally we wanted to run specific candidates against each other, but Marvel and DC didn't want to be officially involved. So we decided to just make it Heroes vs. Villains, with a third category for those that don't fit either way,”Sardo said. If that's not specific enough, there's nothing to stop fans from working to promote a particular character. A grassroots campaign to elect Norman Osbourne is already taking place on the site.

Promotions like this are just another way that shops like Sardo's remain worthwhile, relevant hubs in an age where we see trade paperbacks and chain bookstores becoming an increasingly important part of how comics are sold. The Comic Book Elections website puts it all in plain print: “The most important people involved are the fans.”

Sardo expanded on this philosophy. “Comic companies always say they listen to fans, but I don't think that's always true. I think in the long run, if they see that however many hundred people came out and voted for this, or started their own campaign for that, we'll have a united front. It won't just be a few fanboys raising hell on the Internet.” The dedication to creating a better, more social environment for the discerning comic buyer is even evident in the floor plan of The Comic Vault.

“We wanted to create something a little more friendly than the generic Comic Book Store' look,” said Sardo. He stands behind the counter in an open, airy store that bears little resemblance to the basement-full-of-comics where most of us are used to going for our weekly fix. Open for less then two years, the store has already attracted a regular clientèle, some of whom seem to come as much to chat about the latest offerings on the “New This Week” wall as for the comics themselves.

“You could bring your girlfriend or mom here and not be ashamed,” Sardo said.

I had occasion to test this out personally by bringing my moderately-less-nerdy-than-me roommate here. I'm pleased to say she remained positive even while I descended into the depths of nerdy comic-talk with Sardo.

“The local response to the Election has been great,” he confided. “People are getting excited about it, and we're following through.”

You can stay informed on the latest in “Election” coverage and work to make the event worthwhile by going to
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